STAFFORD, Virginia (WRIC) — Authorities are looking for a Virginia woman facing abduction charges after taking her four children on vacation and never returning home.
Melody Bannister, a 34-year-old woman from Stafford, reported that her children were being abused by a family member. The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office said those allegations were “unfounded” after an investigation from authorities in June.
After the investigation ended, Bannister took her children on vacation and did not return home.
In July, the children’s father was granted custody but Bannister refused “and subsequently petitioned the courts in Alabama requesting custody be issued to her there,” the Sheriff’s Office said. The courts in Alabama ordered Bannister to return the children to their father but, according to authorities, she “absconded from the state of Alabama with her four children and has not been seen since.”
The children, 13-year-old Genevieve Bannister, 12-year-old Janelle Bannister, 11-year-old Vivienne Bannister and 7-year-old Peter Bannister, were last seen Aug. 20 in Moulton, Alabama.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the children have since been spotted in several locations across the country:
- Birmingham, Alabama – 35201
- Moulton, Alabama – 35650
- Greenville, South Carolina – 29601
- Shell Lake, Wisconsin – 54871
- Madison, WI – 53701
- Spooner, WI – 54801
- Maryville, Tennessee – 37801
- Knoxville, Tennessee – 37901
- Lexington, Kentucky – 40502
- Leadville, CO – 80429
- Raleigh, NC – 27601
- Aransas Pass, TX – 78335
- Dallas, TX – 75201
- Corpus Christie, Texas – 78401
Due to recent developments, investigators believe the children could be in danger. Bannister is wanted on one felony charge of violating a court order, four misdemeanor charges of abduction and filing a false police report.
If you have any information, officials ask that you call 1-877-WANTED2.
Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.